Bi-weekly exercise may boost cognition, memory in elderly

Published: Dec 30, 2017, 21:23 IST | IANS | New York

Exercising twice a week may improve thinking ability and memory in people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), according to a new guideline released by the American Academy of Neurology

Exercise

Exercising twice a week may improve thinking ability and memory in people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), according to a new guideline released by the American Academy of Neurology. Worldwide, more than six per cent of people in their 60s and over 37 per cent of people aged 85 or above have MCI.

The level of exertion should be enough to work up a bit of a sweat but doesn't need to be so rigorous that you can't hold a conversation. "Regular physical exercise has long been shown to have heart health benefits, and now we can say exercise also may help improve memory for people with mild cognitive impairment," said lead author Ronald C. Petersen, MD at the Mayo Clinic -- a US-based healthcare non-profit. "What's good for your heart can be good for your brain," Petersen added.

MCI is a medical condition that becomes common with ageing. While it is linked to problems with thinking ability and memory, it is not the same as dementia. People with MCI have milder symptoms. People with MCI may struggle to complete complex tasks or have difficulty understanding information they have read, whereas people with dementia have trouble with daily tasks, such as dressing, bathing and eating. However, there is strong evidence that MCI can lead to dementia. Thus, doctors should recommend that people with MCI exercise regularly as part of an overall approach to managing their symptoms, the guideline said.

"Exercising might slow down the rate at which you would progress from mild cognitive impairment to dementia," Petersen said. While doctors may recommend cognitive training for people with MCI, there is weak evidence that the training may be beneficial in improving measures of cognitive function. The guidelines, published in the journal Neurology, were developed after reviewing studies for six-months, which showed that bi-weekly workouts may help people with mild cognitive impairment as part of an overall approach to managing their symptoms.

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